There are certainly times when a concert should follow the traditions and practices of sitting still, sitting quietly, stifling coughs and sneezes to the point of agony, applauding at the right time, etc. These are all good things. But they are not always the most user-friendly, nor do they always make people want to go to "classical" music concerts.
Well, guess what: Sunday afternoon is not going to be like this at all!
There will be about thirty chairs set up in a semi-circle around the piano, right up on stage. I want to see children there. Bring your kids. Bring their coloring books, their crayons, and their Judy Blume novels. Come and go as you want or need. Use the bathroom when you feel like it. The first thirty people there will get the best seats in the house! (And if all 30 are taken, just sit on the stage floor! It's only going to be an hour long.) I'll tell you the stories behind the music.
Playing solo on the stage of Dimnent Memorial Chapel has always been not just a scary endeavor, but a lonely one. The vast expanse of wood flooring, the sharp cutoffs on three sides, the heightened elevation from the pews, the chapel walls seemingly miles away, and the sheer volume of the space greatly exacerbates the sense of vulnerability that already exists in the realm of performing for me.
This is why I love Brown Bags, and why I love playing in Brown Bags. Performing is a two-way street; without the close interaction of other people - the listener - I may as well play to a wall. Seriously. Playing closely for others keeps me real, and gives me purpose and intention.
Sunday's program is a very special one for me. The selections of music are based on my own childhood experience: Schubert's A-flat major Impromptu, Chopin's B minor Sonata, and, at the heart of the program, Debussy's Children's Corner. This performance of Children's Corner will be dedicated to the memory of the shooting victims in Newtown, Connecticut. As I've studied and practiced it over the last weeks and months, I've grown very, very close to the music. Debussy's ability to encapsulate the mystery and innocence of the childhood experience, and to amalgamate it into the experience of adulthood through elation, humor, nostalgia, and melancholy, is nothing short of genius. It is now, far and away, my favorite Debussy work.
We all have an inner child, as much as some of us may dislike admitting it. When I entered high school, I recalled my elementary- and middle-school days, and thought, "Wow, I was such a silly kid." When I entered college, I thought back to my high school days and thought, "Man, I've come a long ways." Now, when I think back to my first days as a college professor, I think: "Unbelievable. How on earth did I even do that?" What will I think in twenty years? I (we) will always be a child (children) in some way. And the mere seventeen minutes of Debussy's Children's Corner fully embraces this!
My wife caught our little Matthew saying hi, kissing, and waving goodbye to his own shadow the other day. Maybe someday -- when no one is looking -- I'll try this myself! I hope to see you on Sunday. It's supposed to be cold and rainy outside, anyway. :)
Here is more information about Sunday's recital: http://www.hope.edu/2013/04/03/faculty-member-andrew-le-give-piano-recital-april-14